Thunder general manager Sam Presti has been as good as advertised in his six months in Oklahoma City, a not-so-easy task when you’re labeled a wunderkind and hailed as the man who’ll rescue the franchise from its losing ways.
Last week’s trade that sent reserve center Johan Petro and a second-round pick in this year’s draft to Denver in exchange for Chucky Atkins and a 2009 first-round pick was Presti’s latest coup, a shining example of the magic he’s worked since taking over on June 7, 2007. Granted, Oklahoma City is the worst team in the league. In no way can that fact be overlooked. But pinning the Thunder’s 6-32 record on Presti would be misguided and supremely short-sighted. From the start, Presti has attacked the job with a tear-down-before-you-build-up approach, an almost mandatory method considering the franchise was stuck in mediocrity and risked facing an enormous payroll with aging and declining players. And so Presti began the demolition project with the Ray Allen trade that landed Jeff Green. He continued it with a sign-and-trade deal that sent Rashard Lewis to Orlando and essentially netted three first-round draft picks in subsequent trades. Between maneuvers that cleared more cap space — dumping Wally Szczerbiak on Cleveland and Luke Ridnour on Milwaukee — Presti slowly began the build up phase. He took a chance on Russell Westbroook with the No.
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Thunder at New Jersey Nets
→When: 6:30 tonight →Where: IZOD Center, East Rutherford, N.J. →TV: FS Okla. (Cox 37). →Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM Three things to know
→New Jersey point guard Devin Harris, the frontrunner for the Most Improved Award, has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. →The Nets are one of only two teams to have more road wins than home victories. →New Jersey ranks last in opponent 3-point percentage, allowing an average of 40.5 percent. Probable starters